Women with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have more than four times the odds of suicidal thoughts and generalised anxiety disorders, says a study.
“Many people think of ADHD as primarily a boys’ disorder which has little relevance for girls and women. Our findings suggest, to the contrary, that a large portion of women with ADHD are struggling with mental illness, physical health concerns and poverty,” said Esme Fuller-Thomson from University of Toronto.
The researchers examined a representative sample of 3,908 Canadian women aged 20 to 39 of whom 107 reported that they had been diagnosed with ADHD.
Data was drawn from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health.
“The prevalence of mental illness among women with ADHD was disturbingly high with 46 per cent having seriously considered suicide, 36 per cent having generalised anxiety disorder, 31 per cent having major depressive disorder and 39 per cent having substance abuse problems at some point in their life,” Fuller-Thomson said.
“These rates are much higher than among women without ADHD, ranging from more than four times the odds of suicidal thoughts and generalised anxiety disorders to more than twice the odds of major depressive disorder and substance abuse” Fuller-Thomson noted.
The findings were published online in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development.
The researchers also found that prevalence of physical pain and insomnia was more common in women with ADHD.
“Unfortunately, our study does not provide insight into why women with ADHD are so vulnerable. It is possible that some of the mental health problems may be caused by and/or contributing to financial stress” Fuller-Thomson suggested.
“The study also found, one in three of the women with ADHD reported they had difficulty meeting basic expenses such as food, shelter and clothing due to their inadequate household income. For women without ADHD, only 13 per cent had this shortfall,” Fuller-Thomson pointed out.